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Cameron faces tough questioning from Andrew Marr on Lisbon, that Bullingdon photograph and his personal wealth

Picture 23Highlights from Andrew Marr's interview with David Cameron, not verbatim:

  • Lisbon: David Cameron says he won't shift his policy on Lisbon because he does not want to prejudice the debates taking place in other nations. He says that he has been told for eighteen months that Lisbon was about to be ratified. It is still not ratified. If it still hasn't been ratified and the Conservatives come to power there will be a referendum. Andrew Marr repeatedly said he could not understand why a pledge to hold a referendum regardless of ratification would prejudice debates in other countries. David Cameron did not shift from his position.
  • Wider European issues: There is no falling out with Angela Merkel. The new Tory group of MEPs will have friendly relations with the EPP. He says that he does not want to leave the EU but wants to repatriate powers on social policy and opposes the centralisation inherent in the Lisbon Treaty.
  • Jobs, skills, education: The centrepiece of the Manchester Party Conference will be getting Britain working again.  The Conservative leader promises a "big, bold and radical" scheme to get Britain back to work. There will be payment-by-results for voluntary and other agencies that get the long-term out-of-work into work, including an assessment of all people on incapacity benefit.  He also promises 10,000 more university places, 100,000 more FE college places and more apprentices. The up front cost will be £600m but much of the programme will be paid for by ending Labour's failed into-work schemes.  We must stop short-term employment becoming long-term unemployment, Mr Cameron said.
  • Deficit reduction: Gordon Brown said almost nothing at his Party Conference about the biggest problem in Britain; our budget deficit. Ignoring the deficit is the height of irresponsibility. Conservatives will start immediately with spending restraint whereas Labour is continuing the growth in spending. On Tuesday George Osborne will set out how the Tories will "specifically" get to grips with the budget deficit.
  • Inheritance tax pledge remains in force: Only millionaires will pay inheritance under Tory plans, Cameron reasserts, and that will be paid for by a tax on very rich people (non-doms). 
  • The 50p tax rate: Mr Cameron says it probably will raise some money in the short-term and he cannot promise to repeal it.
  • General tax burden: Britain is already over-taxed, Cameron says, and spending must take the "brunt" of deficit reduction. 
  • Picture 26 The Bullingdon photograph: The BBC kindly posted the photograph in the background of the interview (see screen capture on right). The Tory leader conceded he was "very embarrassed" by it.
  • Personal wealth: Under sustained questioning Mr Cameron declined to say how much he was worth but says the £30 million figure used in the press is "ridiculous". He says he and Samantha are both high earners and have heavily-mortgaged properties.
Tim Montgomerie

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